Friday, December 5, 2014

Solocom 2014

A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see many hilarious and touching shows at the Solocom comedy festival at the PIT. All the performances were great, hilarious, and amazing. I think that the ability to put yourself in front of a group of people and not only perform, but share your story with strangers is amazing. 

That's what I love about art, comedy, and performance. The ability to share stories and celebrate life in some capacity. Each performer I thank for their amazing show.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Orange is a great fall color.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thoughts on Creating Art

Writer's block. From the outside, it probably looks like you're sitting there and doing nothing, but every person who's ever experienced writer's block knows that it's the complete opposite. It's the continuous struggle to eek something out of your conscience and put it out there into the world.

I like to compare this struggle to having a conversation with yourself. When you face that blank paper, you come face-to-face with yourself, and ask, "What am I thinking?" Then your conscience tells you, "I want ice cream." Then you tell yourself, "Okay, ice cream is good. Let's get some." Then ice cream is consumed. "Okay, what are you thinking now?" "I don't know. Bears are funny. Draw a bear." "Okay, why are bears funny?" "I don't know. This is tough."

More often than not, this is writing. Dealing with your stubborn self. But as you dig deeper, you begin to unravel what you truly think about life. Through this process, you begin to understand the world and yourself a little better.

So, to those out there interested, I recommend to create something. Maybe a story, or a picture. And if it becomes too hard, have some ice cream.
Lastly, from my labor this week, a doodle of my family.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Shopping around in the market

Okay, this title doesn't make much sense, but it is a bit more interesting than Marketing 101, which a lot of web pages out there are labeled (Why are they all named like University courses?!). But a big thing about growing a business is putting yourself out there. I will not lie. I am horrendous at this. The good news is I am trying to fix this.

Marketing for Children's Book Illustrators

That link right there is a pretty good one for freelancing children's book illustrators. To sum it up, the name of the game is persistence. As I have learned, sending out one postcard does not make any clients flood my inbox. It is very important to always be letting people know what the heck you're up to without becoming a pest. It is a lot to take in, but with practice, it'll build to bigger and better things.

Also, I changed my profile pictures in Facebook,Twitter, and LinkedIn. I thought people should have a nice picture of me.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Some New Comic Pages

From a graphic novel idea that I am currently working on. These are fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Posh Living for a Bear

Yes, if I had all this nice stuff in a big mansion, all I'd do is dust too. So don't judge the bear too harshly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Patterns in Furniture

I am really proud to show this off as it is my first venture into patterns. On a trip to the Met, I explored the American wing looking particularly at early American furniture. The craft of the designers then were exquisite, and it blows out of the water the couch that I normally sit on.

What struck me then were the amazing patterns in the fabric. Here, a question that's been on my mind for a long while popped on. "Huh! How do they make those patterns?" I never realized how easy it was to make repeating patterns until I looked it up online.

So, patterns and some Photoshop magic, here we are!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letting the characters speak.

This is very important when writing a new story, especially character-driven stories. Stories flow from me when my characters tell me what to do.

Does that make sense? For example, let's say I draw a dog, and I tell him to be funny and goofy, but if that dog doesn't look like a funny, goofy dog, he's not going to do what I want him to do. Instead, if he's drawn like a sad, droopy dog, then he's going to be sad and droopy.

When the characters that I draw start telling ME who they are, that's a good sign. The earliest character that did this for me was a girl named Bev. Right away from the drawing, I knew who she was. She started informing me what her thoughts are.

I share this because while I was drawing and thinking up new picture book ideas, a character yelled at me and said, "HEY! I'm this kind of bear and don't you forget it!" No longer am I writing then. I'm more like reporting.

Here's Merlo, being all hip and cool.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Park illustration

The last couple drawings I've done for some reason are contemplative characters. Reflecting and moody. I suppose I've felt this way the past couple weeks of August. Regardless of my characters, I really like this illustration of what is a park I guess. I think I'd like to do some sort of picture book in a park next. That'd be lots of fun!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A study

Ok, a study. It's always funny that when I first do the illustration, I really like it. Then I compare it to what I referenced and then I am like oh, that is much better. Hoot!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughts going on in the background

So far, August is proving to be a slow month, so it's given me the chance to work on my comic work (beginning to pencil out my story of Artie and Merlo!). It's also given me some time to experiment a bit more.

First, the grayscale. I rarely work in black and white artwork anymore, and hardly ever work in grayscale. I decided to fix that a bit. I'm pretty happy with the two spot illustrations above. It gave me a chance to focus on value rather than color. Which is always important to keep in mind when composing images.

More importantly that I would love to pursue further in some sort of capacity is exploring shape and color. The color illustration is an example of that as well as this.

A comment I received from someone reviewing my portfolio recently said that while I can draw wonderfully and full of energy, I could focus more on my backgrounds. I was definitely aware of the lack of backgrounds in my work. This comes from my comic background. When I draw comics, I only need a few well placed lines to suggest outside or a single prop to suggest where the character is. Charles Schulz did that wonderfully.

To be fair, some picture book artists do just fine without drawing backgrounds. Mo Willems' pigeon books don't need a background one bit. Just flat color. When it comes to my picture books however, my ideas move beyond just simple characters filling up the page. So how to treat backgrounds?

Referring back to Charles Schulz and Peanuts, I am currently reading a book on the Peanuts animation specials and movies made by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson. It was eye-popping realizing that they had the same struggles of taking Schulz's strip and putting it onto the screen.

How do you take these simply drawn characters that have no background and expand that world onto the screen? They did it just fine. Take this sample shot. From a simple line drawing to a fully emotional scene. The background is simple and very graphic, but with a beautiful watercolor sky.
A screenshot from Snoopy, Come Home

Then while working on my comic, I thought of Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes cartoons and turned to Maurice Noble. As a kid and growing up, I've always loved Looney Tunes, but I have more of an affinity for Chuck Jones' shorts than Friz Freleng or Robert McKimson. Yes, his humor was always teetered sophisticated and completely absurd, but I think what pushed his work over the edge was thanks to Maurice Noble.

Just this sample background reflects the graphic nature of the cartoon characters. Bright colors, bold shapes. Just look at the line of direction!  This is just great design. And that's what great backgrounds should be. They should always be well designed to lead the reader's eye to where you want them to go. No element should be wasted.

PHEW! Many thoughts, but as I continue pushing my work, I continually think of these things.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

NJSCBWI Showcase

I did not mention this yet. Last month, I participated in the New Jersey's annual SCBWI conference which I always love attending. The most rewarding thing from these weekends is connecting with many different creative minds from all over. It's great because every once in a while, I come out of the foxhole that is my workspace and get to talk shop with many different people. It humbles me to see all the talent that is congregated in one conference.

Along with a few other illustrators, I was given an award as the winner in the Best Unpublished Illustrator category! Below are the other illustrators whose work won, receieved honorable mentions, or I personally voted for in the Fan Favorite category. I consider myself lucky to be among these illustrators' work.

Vesper Stamper

Deborah Cuneo

Clare Lordon  

artshow jasonSHORE sketch 6
Jason Kirschner

If you're interested in many more amazing illustrations from the conference, Kathy Temean's blog is filled to the brim with much amazing talent from the conference and beyond. I'm happy that I went.

Now, a doodle for people who hate naysayers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Imbibing Alcohol and Sneezing Houses

Yes, who would ever think that alcohol and sneezing houses go so well together?

I received a great compliment about my work this past weekend at the NJSCBWI 2014 conference. Actually, many! A lot of compliments on my work (always exciting), but the one that I took a little certain pride in is making people look twice at my watercolors. They were surprised when I told them that they were not done digitally but good ol' fashioned watercolors! HA! That's right. I fooled them.

What are my secrets? A couple things:

1. Modern, smaller particle sized, watercolor paints

2. Use of a dispersant in the watercolor paint solution

(Note: this is the boring paragraph, and it's only of interest to people who like these tips in technique) First, paints with smaller particle sizes are preferable to the more traditional colors. When doing washes, the bigger particles in the traditional watercolor show up. Boooooo! This is especially true in cerulean blue, french ultramarine, and raw sienna washes. To get a smoother wash, go for the pathalos, quinacridones, hansa yellows, etc.

Second was a happy discovery to create the ultimate smooth wash. It's called alcohol. No, not drinking it. Incorporating a little bit of rubbing alcohol in a mixture of water and paint helps disperse the paint pigment. Like oil and water, alcohol repels water particles. With the addition of mixing rubbing alcohol, the alcohol prevents the particles in the paint to clump together and keeps the particles in suspension. This causes the paints to stay wet even longer on the paper, and keeps the wash even. As an example, the second snow scene is a redo. Even with Prussian Blue, a small particle paint, the wash wouldn't go evenly until I introduced the alcohol. HOORAY!

Lastly, I am exploring shapes in my work. The houses above are influenced by Dan Yaccarino's exciting shapes and colors. It'll take a bit more work, but I am happy where it's going.